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Our Tower of Babble

We are in a babbling time, even a blabbering time.

So much assaults our ears, our minds, our tendencies. There is so much to get our hackles up over, to take sides on, to gossip about and share with our friends.

Enough already. This mobile device I have in my pocket has its uses, but somehow our consulting it has turned us against one another. Our rampant googling presumes to make us each an authority over the other. Somehow the fingertip availability of the internet has succeeded in garbling our words, as we climb one upon the other in order to shout the loudest from the tallest point.

There is something very wrong, yet very familiar, about this. It has me consulting Genesis 11:1-9 where I read the troubling story of the tower of Babel.

“Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel —because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”

Genesis 11:1-9 NIV

Are we in our own tower of Babel time? In these days, have we become so engrossed in our “connecting” through the internet and “building” relationships online that we are failing to see and hear what’s true, what’s noble, what’s right, what’s pure, what’s lovely, what’s admirable, and all that is excellent and praiseworthy in our midst? (from Phil 4:8) Because this is what we are charged with doing. And what’s more, these things are what are meant to shape our thinking, and convict or confirm us in our doing.

So, if all of this babbling is distracting me from my purpose, then I had best set aside the shouting going on around me and attend to the whisper within me that says, “You know Me. I am here. Talk to Me. Confirm with Me. Ask questions of Me.”

The best way I know to do this I have set to writing in, Made to Move: Knowing and Loving God Through Our Bodies.* God has given me this life and this body in which to live it. God expects better from me, and I believe, better from all of us tuned into the God channel.

Today, God has reminded me, Wendy, if you’re having a problem with the way your world is working, you hold in your hands the way I have given you to come and find me again. Get out that book of yours and the Book of mine and let’s work our way through it.

Friends, will you join me for Made to Move online? I will post the writings and welcome daily comments at the blog on my author website. (https://wendylebolt.com/) We’ll kick off this Sunday! Let’s gather there and leave the babble on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the others behind.

*Learn more about Made to Move and order print or digital versions here.

Does stillness feel like a straight jacket to you, too?

When people find out I’ve published a faith-based title, they often ask, Do you meditate? “I pray,” I tell them. This is usually met with an uncomfortable silence or, “Oh.” Then crickets.

People, it seems, aren’t quite sure what to do with prayer. Meditation is the in thing. It’s so much more … accepted, inoffensive, non-denominational. It’s something people do who are giving responsible attention to their “inner quieting” when the world feels so loud.

I get that. So much shouts at us to hurry up! keep up! get ahead! don’t fall behind! Be better! Be faster! Do more! All while the backlog from our to-do lists piles up and our best intentions get shoved aside. Who in her right mind would turn down the opportunity to embrace stillness and quietly channel her inner self in calm moments of meditation?

I would, actually. Do, in fact. Oh, it’s not the calm or quiet I object to, it’s the “stillness” that gives me trouble. Whenever I am required to be completely immobile, no matter where I rest my hands, how I cross my legs or where I direct my gaze, I feel like I am confined by a straight jacket. Almost instantly, I want to fight to free myself, open my eyes and give in to a good belly laugh at the silliness of the whole situation.

Now, some who would meld prayer and meditation have suggested that meditation is simply the listening part of prayer. For instance, begin with “be still and know that I am God” and then meditate on the response you hear, sense or receive.

While this feels like a powerful practice and can be for me on my good days, on most days that “be still” part catches me up. The key is getting to the listening part in a condition that actually inclines me to listen; I have to loose the straight jacket without losing my focus.

I’ve found (and described in my book, Made to Move) that the best way for me to do this is via natural movement like rocking, swaying, nodding or through rhythmic activity like walking, running, riding, rowing or swimming. Movement that “happens” without intentional ignition is best, especially when it can continue without drawing attention to itself. It’s as if I have engaged my body to attend to my soul.

Best of all, I can tap into this any time! By piping down the panicked voices that shout “faster, better, more” — and for me this requires I call on that Higher Power who can silence what doesn’t belong — I can actively and healthfully engage my work in the world. Whether it’s writing a novel, working difficult mathematical calculations, tending to a distraught co-worker or family member, creating strategic market analysis or any other work worth doing, I can engage it fully, contemplatively.

While meditation teaches me to subtract myself from my doings, to take a break in order to re-engage the fight, real-time bodily prayer actually adds to my effectiveness in the “fight.” By it, I gain confidence, courage and insight to do what’s before me, again and again.

Yes, I pray. And actually I am okay with the silence that may follow. Because in it, I am on the move, taking the awkward and tossing it back and forth with my prayer partner as if we are having a catch in the back yard. Throw/catch. Throw/catch. Listening to it snap into the pocket of my mitt, and then into His.

Words are easy there. So is silence.

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